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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, ladies and gents, this is your cosmopolitanly genial host John Derbyshire with commentaries on the week's news.
As you may have surmised from the opening adverb there, this weeks' podcast has an international flavor. This week, listeners, we go spanning the world — the Middle East, the Far East, Germany, Britain, and a courtesy call at Australia.
First, though, some domestic news, featuring our charismatic and exquisitely, sensitively emotional Chief Executive.
02 — Is Obama mad, sad, or bad? Tuesday this week saw an unsightly bit of political theater at the White House.
President Obama held a ceremony to announce some executive orders he's issued concerning a slight tightening-up of the federal rules on selling guns. The constitutionality of these new rules is disputed, and we can look forward to some wrangling over them in the courts.
The new rules are political theater in themselves. They are so picayune, it's highly improbable that a single life will be saved by them, as even sympathetic analysts have pointed out.
So why did Obama bother? Well, part of what he was doing was just busy-ness for the sake of looking busy. He's the President; he has to be seen doing something.
Another part was sticking a finger in the eye of the Republican-controlled Congress, which declines to take up gun-control laws. Congress had likewise declined to do so during Obama's first two years, when the Democrats were in control; but Obama probably calculates, probably correctly, that nobody remembers that.
Obama deliberately pumped up the theatricality by putting rhetorical emphasis on the 2012 elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. That was when 20-year-old psycho Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in that town. In fact Obama had himself introduced by Mark Barden, whose first-grader son Daniel was one of those 20 children killed by Lanza.
"Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad," said Obama, in his speech following Mr Barden's introduction. He then wiped a tear from his eye. He seems only to have mopped up the right side of his face, so the press could get pictures of the left cheek all wet; the New York Post's Wednesday edition front-paged one of those pictures. Either that, or Obama has mastered the art Bill Clinton was said to practice when occasion demanded it: the art of weeping out of one eye.
Excuse my cynicism. This weepy stuff rubs me the wrong way. I'm old-school Brit: stiff upper lip, and a man who cries in public is a sissy, or else a cynical politician going for the sissy vote. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure my attitude is particularly British. Perhaps it's just old-school, period. Didn't Ed Muskie's presidential campaign back in 1972 crash and burn after he was seen crying? I guess the sissy vote wasn't such a big factor 44 years ago.
And Obama's words don't match his actions. They really should, for effective theater; but the tearing-up followed those words I quoted, quote again, "Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," end quote. You don't tear up when you're mad; you tear up when you're sad. I call bogus on Obama's tears.
For the Sandy Hook shooting, "sad" is actually right. There is no denying the horror of it. I've raised two kids; I don't need telling. It's hard to see how very occasional random horrors like that can be prevented, though.
The guns Lanza used were legally owned, and would have been if these executive orders had been in force. Lanza was crazy as a coot, no doubt about that; but he wasn't crazy in any way that cried out for taking his liberty away, unless you want taking away a citizen's liberty away to be a lot easier than it currently is.
In a populous nation, random acts of horrible lunacy will very occasionally happen. It's not an exclusively American thing: the Dunblane school shooting in Scotland, 1996, and the Port Arthur spree killing in Australia that same year both happened under far more restrictive gun laws than would be constitutionally possible in the U.S.A.
Sometimes, after the event, you can see ways the thing might have been prevented; other times you can't. This is a fallen world, with an irreducible component of horror built into it. And that should make us sad. Not mad, sad.
Spree killings are anyway only a tiny proportion of gun deaths. There are about 30,000 gun deaths a year in the U.S.A., two-thirds of them suicides. Of the ten thousand or so that aren't suicides, spree killings are a fraction of one percent. If you add up the spree killings for 2015, for example, there were 3 in Chapel Hill in February, 9 in Charleston in June, 2 in Lafayette in July, and 14 in San Bernadino in December; total 28. Out of 30,000.
Speaking of suicides, here's a curious little fact from a recent survey by the Brookings Institute, title "Guns and race: The different worlds of black and white Americans." In the years 2011-2013, 77 percent of white gun deaths were suicides, only 19 percent homicides. For black gun deaths the reverse was the case: only 14 percent suicides, 82 percent homicides.
My question: If life under the iron heel of White Supremacy is so intolerably painful for blacks, why is it the white people who are committing suicide?
OK, back to the President's Tuesday speech. If you want to be really cynical, you might suspect that Obama, or someone among his advisers, is making a market play. Headline from Forbes magazine, January 5th, quote: Gun Stocks Surge As Obama Issues Executive Orders On Gun Safety. Quote from the story, quote:
Shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co jumped 6.8 percent in Tuesday trading, hitting their highest level in a full year … Smith & Wesson, meanwhile, saw its stock surge more than 12 percent and reach its highest price since July of 2007.
Am I actually that cynical? No, of course not. In fact Obama's speech, the bogus tears aside, was quite conciliatory by his standards. You can read the whole thing at Newsweek.com. It made no mention of the fact, though, that recent years have seen soaring levels of gun ownership along with falling rates of violent crime.
Didn't someone write a book about that? Yes, someone did: John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, way back in 1998. Perhaps Obama could include it in one of those vacation reading lists he publicizes from time to time.
03 — Yin, yang, and a great Fred rant. In the various social problems afflicting the Western world, some people think they see the fundamental issue as sexual.
I'm not talking here about the Beast with Two Backs; I'm talking about yin and yang, the female and male principles, whose interaction drives the Tao, the way things happen.
I've dabbled in this line of thinking myself. Three years ago I published a column titled "White People are Pussies," lamenting the passivity and ethnomasochism of the British, Scandinavians, and even the Russians.
These kinds of speculations are most prominent in that corner of the Internet called the Manosphere — websites that draw on insights from evolutionary psychology to explain the behavior of women, and to teach guys how to use those insights to their own advantage in dating and mating.
They turn up elsewhere, though. They turned up in Steve Sailer's column at TakiMag on Wednesday this week.
Steve's column is actually a book review. Steve's reviewing a book titled Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner. Along the way, though, he gives a passing mention to Jean Raspail's 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints, which is about a Third World invasion of Europe. Nineteen seventy-three is a long time ago, so Raspail was forecasting what we've been seeing this year in Europe. However, says Steve, longish quote:
Raspail missed key aspects of what happened in 2015. He imagined that the refugees would be starving masses who overcame European resistance by their pitifulness. But instead, the invaders turned out to be strutting military-age youths with smartphones, giving Germany's surrender a weird sexual vibe that nobody yet has explained satisfactorily even in retrospect.
That caused one of Steve's readers to contribute the following to the comment thread at Steve's own blog, another longish quote, slightly edited:
The sexual appeal of strutting military age young men would be to whom? To women, both young and old. If the appeal is sexual it can't be to anyone else. It is to women … The sexy men are invading because the women want it.
That got some push-back from other commenters. Some pointed out that mainstream-media pictures of the Muslim invaders try to avoid showing the fit young males, preferring to focus on distressed women and drowned toddlers. You could say that's also a yin play — an appeal to the feminine — but to a different module of the female brain.
Others wondered, as I have, looking at some of the news pictures of weedy European guys welcoming muscular male migrants, whether the appeal of those "strutting military-age youths" is entirely heterosexual.
And then here comes columnist Fred Reed. I've known Fred for 15 years, since we both contributed to Steve's HBD Yahoo group. Fred's erratic, with a lot of swings and misses, and he's developed an animus against me that I haven't been able to figure out, but when he finds a sweet spot he hits the ball out of the park.
Extracts from Fred's column at his own website. His topic is Obama's gun-control executive orders. Edited long quote:
I confess to a grudging admiration [for Obama]. He, belonging to one of the virile peoples — blacks, Hispanics, and Moslems — has keenly diagnosed the weakness of American society:
It's a great rant. Fred is, in fact, one of the best ranters in the business.
Are these commentators on to something? Is there a yin-yang aspect to our civilizational crisis? Are white people pussies? Or is is just white men? Should we be putting testosterone in the water supply? … No, wait a minute, the women would drink it too, and end up looking like Serena Williams.
Discuss among yourselves while I take this theme off on a couple of tangents.
04 — Germany's Muslims not yet figured out grooming. I was in the city of Cologne just once, in 1954. I was nine years old, on my way to visit my brother, who was stationed with the British Army in Düsseldorf. Through the train window my mother pointed out the famous Cathedral, which I recall as looking very battered still from wartime bombing damage. The Cathedral had taken fourteen hits, but somehow survived.
It may not survive much longer. What the British and American air forces failed to do, the Germans themselves may yet accomplish. With the floods of young Muslims into Germany last year, to be followed presumably by chain migration of their relations and anyone who can afford forged documents to claim a relationship, combined with the dismally low fertility rate of native Germans, Germany could be under Islamic control by the time my kids retire.
Given what Islamic fundamentalists have been doing to historic structures in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it would be foolish to bet on Cologne Cathedral being around for another seven hundred years; unless, that is, the invaders just turn it into a mosque, like Hagia Sophia.
These gloomy thoughts were of course inspired by the events on New Year's Eve in the center of Cologne. From the New York Times report dated January 5th, quote:
Taking advantage of the New Year's Eve street party, hundreds of young men … described by the authorities as having "a North African or Arabic" appearance … broke into groups and formed rings around young women, refusing to let them escape, the authorities said. Some groped victims while others stole wallets or cellphones.
Ah, diversity! Let's murmur a word of thanks that the Times at least didn't say "vibrant."
Note the date on that report, January 5th. Quote from the report itself, quote: "The assaults initially were not highlighted by the police and were largely ignored by the German news media in the days afterward," end quote.
Nobody has yet been prosecuted for these attacks.
You can see that the German media have some way to go yet towards really sophisticated reporting on multicultural crime. They told us the perps are of "North African or Arabic" appearance. When they've had a few more years' experience they'll know to totally suppress this kind of information and just tell us, as the American media do, that "the assailant was described as a tall man in a red jacket."
Germany's new batch of Muslim migrants are likewise not yet sophisticated in the ways of the West. After they've had a few more years' experience of our society, they'll know that assaulting white girls in the street is kind of crude. What you do is, catch them coming out of school around age 13 and kidnap them for sex slaves, like the Muslims of Rotherham in England. The police won't investigate for fear of seeming racist. That's how it's done, guys!
After the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, Oliver Cromwell's corpse was dug up and hung in chains, then thrown into a garbage pit. If, fifty years from now, Germany were somehow to rid itself of the Muslim invaders and restore European civilization, I hope Angela Merkel's corpse gets the same treatment.
05 — Hillary bungles one. There's been some yin-yang interaction in our Presidential race, too.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's shoo-in nominee, has been trying to get some purchase on the idea of Donald Trump as an enemy of women. This is a stretch all by itself. Trump obviously likes women a lot, and the women he's been intimate with like him a lot, too.
This is not just sexual objectifying, either. As an employer, Trump has promoted plenty of capable women — including his own daughter, who is a busy Executive Vice President in the Trump Organization.
Mrs Clinton's worse problem, though, is Mr Clinton, who used his various positions of power to help himself to female employees, not always with their consent.
This looks much worse nowadays than it did twenty years ago, when we first started learning about it. Since the 1990s our society has moved into a zone of extreme sexual punctiliousness and "affirmative consent" rules and legislation; a zone in which a college boy who winks at a college girl can find himself being investigated for sexual abuse.
Bill Clinton's sexual transgressions look far worse now, under these new sensibilities, than they did then; and they looked bad enough then.
Feminists today tell us that a woman's accusation of having been sexually molested must always be believed. In fact here's a quote from Mrs Clinton herself, December 3rd on Twitter, quote:
Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.
Hoo-kay, then we should believe Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones. And we all know — as they say in Ireland, even the dogs in the street know — that a key part of the Clinton Joint Career Project was his wife's covering for Bill to keep the Project viable, attacking and insulting his female accusers, threatening and probably bribing them to silence when possible.
Mrs Clinton is coping in her usual brazen fashion with the blowback here, but you have to think she's cursing herself for ever bringing up the subject.
06 — Muslim tail wags British dog. Back in October I made passing mention of a rule in Britain that any petition with enough signatures gets debated in Parliament. This is not actually a law, only a promise the Conservative Party made in their election manifesto.
Back then, in October, the petition being debated was to, actual wording of petition, Stop allowing immigrants into the U.K. It got over 213 thousand signatures, and a perfunctory debate.
Well, here's a new petition over there, with even more signatures. Wording, quote: "Block Donald J Trump from UK entry." It's got nearly 572 thousand signatures. Parliament will debate it on January 18th.
How did such a daft petition get so many signatures? Well, there are close to three million Muslims in the U.K. Those 572,000 signatures represent less than twenty percent of that number; so if only one Muslim in six signed up, along with a few thousand non-Muslim Social Justice Warriors, that will do it.
That's the problem with mass immigration. Eventually the numbers are so big, the tail can wag the dog.
It's not very likely the Brits will ban Trump. The impression you get, watching these petition debates, is that the parliamentarians regard them as a dumb chore and are just going through the motions. Probably the Conservatives regret having put that promise in their manifesto.
Looking at the list of open petitions, I see that the second most-signed one, right behind the one to ban Trump, is to, actual wording, "Stop all immigration and close the U.K. borders until ISIS is defeated." That has 456,000 signatures, up there with the ban-Trump's 572 thousand.
But there you see the old problem with open, democratic societies: the problem of salience. Farm price supports are terrifically important to farmers, so they press for them relentlessly. For non-farmers the issue is way down the list of political priorities, so we don't bother about it. The farmers get their way, even though they are only two percent of voters.
Same here. All the Muslims of Britain are rallied behind the anti-Trump petition. It's salient to them, highly salient. Probably a majority of non-Muslim Brits disagree, but they don't care anything like so much, so they don't bother signing the anti-Muslim petition, the one right behind the anti-Trump one.
Mass immigration from unassimilable cultures creates big enclaves like this that can use the system to get their way, pressing issues that are particularly salient to them, however much against the interests of the native majority.
Mass immigration from unassimilable cultures is, in fact incompatible with an open, democratic society. It is altogether a terribly, terribly bad idea — surely the worst idea of the modern age. But you knew that.
07 — Nork nukes knocked. Radio Derb reported back in mid-December North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's boast that his country was ready to detonate a hydrogen bomb. On Wednesday this week the Norks claim to have done so; and indeed, earthquake monitors recorded a very powerful underground event near a known nuclear test site.
Experts are skeptical about the claim. The event recorded doesn't seem to have been of H-bomb magnitude. You can actually boost up a regular fission bomb, an A-bomb, by adding in some fusion fuel, without turning the bomb into a proper fusion weapon.
As we reported in December, there is an upper limit of about half a megaton for fission weapons; by boosting in this way with a dash of fusion fuel, you can increase yield by 50 percent, to three-quarters of a megaton. It's still a boosted fission weapon, though, not a proper fusion weapon. Possibly that's what the Norks have done.
Whatever they've done, it's once again shown how inept our North Korean diplomacy has been. Or perhaps, to put it a bit more kindly, how much of a disadvantage a democratic nation is at when dealing with an exceptionally unprincipled dictatorship like North Korea.
We've been cutting deals with North Korea since the first Bush administration, giving them this, that, and the other if they promise not to pursue nuclear-weapon development. We pulled our own nukes out of South Korea; we sent them food aid during the terrible famine in the mid-1990s; we sent Madeleine Albright and Jimmy Carter and that black basketball player Kim Jong Un likes; we turned a blind eye to their terrorism and kidnappings to get them to the negotiating table; we even supplied them with nuclear reactors; all in return for promises not to nuclearize. And all the time they were steaming ahead with nuke and missile development.
You can't help but wonder if our Presidents and our Secretaries of State this past quarter-century have just been kicking the North Korea can down the road. Perhaps they've all realised how intractable a problem this is, and just fallen back on making these deals so they don't look totally ineffectual.
I'd actually rather believe that of our people than believe they've really been so gullible as to fall for the Norks' repeated promises. Cynicism's not pretty; but in dealing with rogue states like North Korea, it's prettier than gullibility.
If it turns out that the Norks didn't test a true fusion weapon this week, the question arises: Why would they declare having done so, knowing — as they must have done — that the claim can be falsified?
An optimistic take on this is that it's desperation on the part of Kim, shoring up his domestic support with an extravagant claim.
Since he came to power four years ago Kim has conducted some exceptionally ruthless purges of his Inner Party. Some analysts think the regime is unstable; that the purges were necessary because Kim doesn't have his father's and grandfather's skills at manipulating and appeasing factions in the elite.
I'd like to believe that. The Kim regime is way overdue for a Ceaușescu moment. There must be a lamp-post in Pyongyang somewhere that would support Kim's weight.
Unfortunately continued stability in North Korea is a very high priority for the ChiComs. As ticked off as they must be by this latest stunt, they'll likely keep propping up the regime.
The ChiComs want their buffer state; our own politicians want to kick the can down the road; unless someone really smart and ambitious in the North Korean elite can pull off a coup, we're stuck with Kim for a couple more decades yet.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two big boys of the Muslim Middle East, are at loggerheads. The Saudis, who are of course Sunni Muslims, but with a Shi'ite minority in their country, executed some Shi'ite troublemakers. A mob in Iran reacted by burning down the Saudi Embassy.
It doesn't seem likely this will come to open war — as opposed to the proxy Sunni-Shi'ite wars going on in Syria and Yemen. If it does, the only thing to say is the thing Henry Kissinger said about the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, echoed by Michael Curtis over at American Thinker this week: "It's a pity both sides can't lose."
I got ticketed by the multicultural sensitivity police a few years ago for writing, quote:
One doesn't want to be accused of inhuman callousness; but I am willing to confess, and believe I speak for a lot of … Americans … that the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure.
I still feel the same way. So ticket me again, I don't care.
The thing that caught my eye about the story was the victim's name: Jihad Jackson.
Well, here's an early story from 2016, actually from Cincinnati.com, January 6th.
The principal here is also black, but he's a perp, not a victim. While in Hamilton County Jail back in July awaiting trial on charges of shooting at two police officers, this fellow, according to prosecutors, sucker-punched a deputy, knocking him down and splitting his ear open.
The motive for the attack, Assistant Prosecutor David McIlwain told jurors during opening statements in Hamm's trial, the motive was, quote, "He hates white people." Who could believe it?
Again, what catches one's eye here is the perp's name: Quran Hamm. That's the fancy PC spelling of "Koran," Q-U-R-A-N, although mercifully Mr Hamm's parents (parent, whatever) left out the annoying apostrophes.
There is of course nothing more shamefully wicked than racial and ethnic profiling. I respectfully suggest, however, that if approached in the street by a black stranger who identifies himself as Mecca Washington, you should run like the wind.
Item: Finally, hero of the season, Englishman John Beeden, 53 years old, who has rowed across the Pacific Ocean.
Mr Beeden left San Francisco on June 1st and rowed 7,400 miles to Queensland, Australia. He rowed for 15 hours a day, for 209 days. Quote from him: "It was 10, 15, 100 times harder than I thought it would be."
If you'd asked me, Mr Beeden, I'd have said it couldn't possibly be harder than I thought it would be. Congratulations on coming safe ashore.
Mrs Beeden tells us her husband will now be looking for new challenges. I salute his tremendous spirit; and, unable to find any adequate words of my own, offer him these from Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and I hope the new year is treating you well so far.
Striving to come up with some closing music that relates to rowing, in tribute to Mr Beeden, the best I can find is The Eton Boating Song, a traditional song of Eton Boys' School — the school on whose playing fields, according to the Duke of Wellington, the Battle of Waterloo was won.
Jolly boating weather,
Stirring stuff, even if you're not an Old Etonian.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Eton Boating Song.]